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A CIRCLE Line connecting Perth’s southern suburbs and a railway extension north towards Yanchep have emerged as the Barnett Government’s likely next train projects.
The new east-west route, running between Thornlie and Cockburn, would be the first stage in a wider circular line that allows commuters to bypass the CBD.
Transport Minister Bill Marmion also revealed his department was closely looking at proposal to extend the northern suburbs line towards Yanchep.
A previous plan by former transport minister Dean Nalder to build an underground rail line from the city centre to Morley appears set to be dumped.
Mr Marmion said his department marginally favoured the circle line proposal ahead of a northern extension, but both schemes would be considered by Cabinet.
He said it was not out of the question both could be part of the election campaign, should funding be available from the sale of Western Power, the Commonwealth or from “land value capture”.
That funding model allows the private sector to make money out of land development near new train stations and thus contribute to building the railway.
It comes as our WA Speaks poll of 9000 West Australians reveals just one in six regularly use public transport, with frequency and hours of service the biggest gripe.
Mr Marmion said crucial to encouraging greater train patronage would be the creation of rail lines that bypass the city centre so people don’t have travel into the CBD to get to work.
He said that was one of the main messages the Transport Department had received during consultation on its recently released plan for Perth at 3.5 million people.
“A lot of people do support rail that connects the radials. Basically it’s a circle line, joining the dots up. If you were starting to plan a city from the very beginning that’s what you’d do,” he said.
Mr Marmion said his department rated the two projects as priorities, with developers in the northern suburbs pushing for the rail extension beyond Joondalup.
“The next two priority projects for rail are probably Thornlie to Cockburn Central and an extension up towards to Yanchep, how far I’m not sure,” he said.
“There is an argument that if you build rail it will trigger development and it will end up worthwhile as you’ll end up with better development around it. That requires proper zoning so you can get high density around the stations.”
The WA Speaks survey revealed WA remains a car-centric state, with only 16.8 per cent of respondents saying they use public transport often.
Another 26.5 per cent said they used buses and trains occasionally, while 37.6 per cent said they rarely used public transport and 19 per cent said they never used it. The CAT service was rated the best, followed by buses and trains.
Opposition Leader Mark McGowan said the results confirmed commuters wanted better public transport, and he said Labor would deliver its Metronet rail plan if elected.
This article first appeared on www.perthnow.com.au
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